The Democrats’ America : Rule by Judges

Judge and gavelIn 2009, I wrote a post entitled “Does Brown v. Board of Education constitute the Supreme Court’s one free pass?” in it, I argued that Brown represented the Supreme Court coming up with a rather badly reasoned (albeit moral) legal opinion to leapfrog over the fact that the South was not moving with sufficient speed to end segregation.

Because segregation was a great evil, the Court created a legal principle out of whole cloth in order to short-cut its destruction. Waiting for a paradigm shift in the South (which would have been reflected in the Southern ballot box) would have consigned at least one generation of blacks — and possibly many more — to a marginal, unequal existence in the United States. By issuing the Brown opinion, which led to grotesque images of white Southerners attacking black children and therefore made the public aware of the great moral wrong that continued to exist in the South almost 100 years after the South lost the Civil War, the Court jump started the Civil Rights movement.

The problem with the Brown decision, I said, is that, while it did end one evil, it created another evil, which is the notion of judge-made law:

Considering the evil that was the Jim Crow South, and considering that the system would have taken decades to die out on its own, here’s the big question:  Was it a good thing that the Supreme Court jump-started Jim Crow’s death by issuing an activist decision that was both Constitutionally incorrect and factually just a tiny dent in the system, but that worked to turn America’s eyes onto a great wrong being done in its own back yard?

My answer is that, righteous though the results were, the decision was still wrong.  Keep in mind that the societal benefits in Brown‘s wake were not the intended consequences of the decision.  Instead, the benefits flowed from an unintended consequence:  the novelty of media attention focusing on an issue most Americans had managed to disregard.  In other words, it wasn’t the Court decision that brought about the change; it was the dumb luck that flowed from that decision. While the decision is viewed as carte blanche for activism, because it was followed by a successful societal change, the change flowed, not from the decision itself, but simply from the attention it garnered.

The example I focused on in 2009 to show the damage from judicial activism was the Kansas school system. There, a judge not only ruled that the schools weren’t equal, he also micro-managed precisely how equal they should be, practically down to the last pencil. In other words, he wasn’t just a judge, he also acted as a bureaucrat. The judge-managed schools were a costly disaster.

The above discussion is about the judge-made law and bureaucracy looked at from the judges’ point of view. Two articles, though, have made me aware that, of late, one specific party has decided to abandon the democratic process altogether and to rely solely on the rule of judges, whether legislative or bureaucratic.

The first article I read was about gay marriage, which has become the law in almost half of America’s states . . . thanks to judges, not the voters:

While it probably is true that perceptions are slowly shifting among the populaceen masse, such tidal changes typically take decades if not generations to show up as legislative changes, let alone constitutional ones. The wave of states legalizing same-sex marriage unions is not the result of shifting values in America, it is the result of amazingly resilient and determined activists using the courts to overturn the will of the people.

Homosexual marriage amendments (or state-constitutional bans thereof) have been placed on ballots 34 times and have been defeated 31 times. Yes, even in California Proposition 8 — an amendment to the state’s constitution that denied same-sex couples the constitutional right to marry — passed overwhelmingly. Yet California has same-sex marriage. Why? How is that possible if the masses spoke, and in California’s case spoke loudly?

What’s happening in state after state is not the citizenry is giving its seal of approval to same-sex marriage — in fact, we are doing quite the opposite. Then once a measure fails lawyers funded by activists file lawsuits and begin a legal process. If and when the first attempt fails they file an appeal and try again. And again. And again. These lawsuits run up through the court system until finally landing on the desk of a judge sympathetic to the cause. That judge then takes the will of the people as expressed through the ballot box and with the stroke of a pen throws it out.

The will of the people is becoming subordinate to the will of the judges thanks to the Democrats’ endless forum shopping.  I’m not saying here that the judges have decided rightly or wrongly, I’m just saying that we have a dangerously undemocratic confluence of judges who, since the 1950s, see themselves as moral arbiters, and Democrats who have decided that, because the ballot box in our republican democracy is controlled by Bible-thumbing gun-clutchers, these activist judges should decide all of the day’s pressing issues.  This is profoundly undemocratic.

This Democrat trend, to turn to judges rather than the people to advance a political agenda, is also reflected in the increased use of judges to destroy political candidacies.  Barack Obama famously brought down his opponents in Chicago through courthouse shenanigans rather than through a direct appeal to the will of the people.  Texas Democrats, too, are famous for trying to destroy Republican politicians through lawsuits, with the manifestly spurious criminal suit against Rick Perry being only the most recent example.

Scott Johnson has assembled a bushel-full of quotations from people on both the left and the right side of the aisle excoriating the suit against Perry. The left is abandoning democracy on a judge by judge basis.

The Bookworm Beat — August 16 Saturday Night Special

Woman writingYesterday, the phone or the doorbell rang every 10-20 minutes all afternoon and evening. We had a rotating cast of characters for dinner, one of my dogs hid for the day, and the other dog barked itself into laryngitis. I have no complaints, as I like a social house, but there’s a lot to be said for just a little less sociability.

Today has been relatively quiet, so I was able to do six loads of laundry and take care of a good 300 emails. I still have my snail-mail inbox to clear out, but overall I feel remarkably productive. The dogs are happy too.

I don’t know if a review of the news will result in any happiness, but it’s still a task I feel compelled to perform.

Ferguson reveals seemingly intractable problems in modern American cities

The more I read about events in Ferguson, the more I know that two principles I hold are correct, even though I don’t know how much either principle applies to the specific events in Ferguson. The first principle is that the police are and should be people’s servants, not their military masters.

Separating military and police

The second principle is that the “wilding” that blacks turn to when the police offend them solves nothing about their dismal situation throughout America’s Democrat-controlled cities, but definitely makes it reasonable for police to seek protection behind military gear.

Police brutality and Slim Jims

This is a nasty chicken and egg dance, with blacks complaining (illogically, but it still drives their behavior) that police brutality drives them to resist arrest and run riot through cities, effectively destroying their own communities, and police complaining (more credibly) that with blacks running riot, the only way a sane person would become a police officer is to bury himself behind massive armor and weaponry.

Mark Steyn certainly finds much to blame on both sides of the dispute raging between Ferguson’s blacks and its police force.

Even as cops and blacks blame each other, both should be blaming Democrat/Progressive Big City politics

The only place that neither blacks nor police are looking in order to place blame is the one place that ought to be blamed: The urban Democrat/Progressive political machine. Kevin D. Williamson, who has traveled to most of America’s major cities, the vast majority of which are Democrat-run and being run into the ground, explains just how badly the Progressive experiment is playing out in these places:

Progressives spent a generation imposing taxes and other expenses on urban populations as though the taxpaying middle class would not relocate. They protected the defective cartel system of public education, and the union money and votes associated with it, as though middle-class parents would not move to places that had better schools. They imposed burdens on businesses, in exchange for more union money and votes, as though businesses would not shift production elsewhere. They imposed policies that disincentivized stable family arrangements as though doing so would have no social cost.

And they did so while adhering to a political philosophy that holds that the state, not the family or the market, is the central actor in our lives, that the interests of private parties — be they taxpayers or businesses — can and indeed must be subordinated to the state’s interests, as though individuals and families were nothing more than gears in the great machine of politics. The philosophy of abusive eminent domain, government monopolies, and opportunistic taxation is also the philosophy of police brutality, the repression of free speech and other constitutional rights, and economic despair. Frank Rizzo was not a paradox — he was an inevitability. When life is reduced to the terms in which it is lived in the poorest and most neglected parts of Chicago or Detroit, the welfare state is the police state.

I would recommend Williamson’s article as a must-read and, if your Leftist friends can be brought to read something published in — gasp! — National Review, it’s an article that you should share with those who haven’t already seen the conservative, individualist, small government, small-l libertarian light.

Resisting arrest is asking for trouble

Bob Weir, a former police officer, explains that “brutality” is not an unreasonable response to get from a police officer if you make the decision to resist arrest.

And of course, there’s always the media to fan the flames

Sadie send me this image, along with some of her pungent, trenchant commentary:

The media's role in all this

A reprise of the Trayon Martin summer hit of 2012. Rev. Al and Rev. Jesse once again, play themselves. Benjamin Crump, Esq. has been recalled to the stage. Rioters, looters and extras, against a backdrop of staged outrage are seen running, dancing, shouting – looting included. Audience members and media are encouraged to bring a cell phone to record the experience.

Ferguson is making for some pretty strange political bed fellows

A young Marine friend of mine (who grew up in an incredibly liberal Marin household) posted this excellent Matt Walsh article saying that the police officers aren’t to blame for the anarchy in Ferguson. A young entrepreneur I know here in Marin, whose Facebook posts hew liberal, but who has a libertarian streak, liked the article, commenting that you have to “suck up reality.”

Events in Ferguson are making for some strange political bedfellows. Perhaps we might see a paradigm shift coming soon….

Obama, the bored, disaffected, disenchanted, disengaged American President

I’m not a Joe Scarborough fan, but I agree with Pete Wehner in thinking that Scarborough was correct when, on the Hugh Hewitt show, he stated that Obama has simply checked out of the presidency. Although motives are irrelevant — all that matters is the fact that Obama’s not playing president any more — Wehner still speculates as to his motives, and I still find the speculation interesting:

What could possibility explain this attitude? It may be that Mr. Obama was drawn to the job not for the right reasons but because he viewed the presidency as a new mountain to climb, a prize to win, as a way to feed his unusually large ego (even for a politician). It may also be that Mr. Obama, with his presidency crumbling, is like a petulant child who wants to pick up his marbles and leave. He was fine serving as president when he was adored and well liked; now that things are going south he appears to have emotionally “checked out,” to use Scarborough’s phrase.

The curse of the golf course

Daniel Greenfield has noticed that Obama starts wars when he’s on vacation near a golf course, while bad actors seem to time their bad acts to coincide with Obama’s golf game. The incessant golf games, which once were a sore point only for grumpy conservatives, are beginning to dismay everyone.

There’s something unseemly about our president’s obsession with golf. Of course, the golf games are perfect fodder for political cartoonists, who see the golf course as a metaphor for Obama’s singular absence from and disinterest in a world in flames around him. Don’t believe me? Just check out Steven Hayward’s cartoon round-up for the week.

The terrorist negotiating strategy

No, I haven’t forgotten poor, beleaguered Israel, even though I chose not to lead with it in this round-up.

My very first item about Hamas put me strongly in mind of Jeff Dunham’s Achmed The Dead Terrorist, whose catch-phrase whenever things don’t go his way is “Silence! I kill you!”

Hamas has now issued an ultimatum regarding its peace talks with Israel.  Paraphased, it amounts to “Accept all our conditions or we kill you!” Last I heard, that’s not how good-faith negotiations are supposed to work.

The world doesn’t care about dead JEWISH kids

A bereaved Israeli mother, whose teenage daughter died in a terrorist attack during the Second Intifadah, reminds us that the world doesn’t inevitably shed tears when children die in war. For example, when her precious daughter was one of hundreds who died in attacks deliberately targeted at Israeli/Jewish children, the world had nothing to say.

The IDF has a photo-gallery summing up this summer’s war

The IDF has collected 17 photographs summing up the reality of the Israel/Gaza war. Some of them show the bombs bursting in air over Israel and how frightening and destructive those bombs are, Iron Dome notwithstanding. Others show Gazan residents lined up as useful idiots and human shields for Hamas, as well as the fact that Israel treats these poor fools with incredible decency. Still others show the depth, breadth, and imaginative destructive power of the Hamas armory in Gaza.

It’s like a joke . . . “This Travis County D.A. walked out of a bar, dead drunk….”

The Rick Perry indictment is a joke. That’s no surprise to me, frankly.  Travis County is famous for its corrupt legal system.

Back when I was in law school, three Texas Supreme Court judges were under investigation for accepting bribes. Indeed, at our annual musical review, which spoofed the movie Grease, I distinctly remember that one of the songs had lyrics that referred to a scam in which attorneys appearing before the court had bribed the judges with lavish trips:

We go together like V&E [Vinson & Elkins], F&J (Fulbright & Jaworski), and Jones & Day
We’re graduating and going on to sweat and cram for the July bar exam
We’ll clerk for judges and
Fill their briefs with legalese, and Vegas trips with attorneys.

I mean, jeez, if an Obama stalwart like David Axelrod is unimpressed by the indictment, you know it’s shaky. For more solid legal reasons, Eugene Volokh also thinks the indictment is unsustainable. So good for Rick Perry to fight back, and I hope he fights back hard.

For those of you new to this story, Rosemary Lehmberg, the Travis County D.A. got arrested for drunk driving, pleaded guilty, and served 45 days. I’ll let Duane Paterson pick up the story:

Rick Perry thought her to be a disgrace, and wanted her to resign. She didn’t. So he took the next step and threatened to veto funding for her office. In response, a grand jury handed down an abuse of power indictment for coercive use of a veto late this afternoon. So the woman who was belligerent and intoxicated stays, Rick Perry is the bad guy and needs to go. Right. Got it.

By any standard, Lehmberg’s behavior was disgraceful. She pleaded guilty to a .23, almost .24, blood alcohol level (almost three times the legal limit), was oppositional with the arresting officers, and tried to use her political heft to avoid the charges.

Here’s the arrest video:

And here’s the video of her doing her “do you know who I am and who my friends are?” routine:

And for those who aren’t conversant with that blood alcohol level, Ace has a handy-dandy (and funny) cheat sheet.

Gene Simmons fights back against political correctness and in favor of immigrants learning English

I hate Gene Simmons, the KISS rocker. (It was the snake-like tongue that did it for me. I hate the tongue in Miley Cyrus too.) However, I very much admire Gene Simmons, the American immigrant who courageously speaks truth to political correctness. His latest outburst is about the criminally wrongful act of insisting that immigrants to this country shouldn’t be forced to learn English.

As a sort of aside about political correctness, my daughter said that she tried to watch Robin William’s movie Hook. She thought that the premise — Peter Pan returns to Neverland as an adult — intriguing, but hated that the casting was manifestly done to meet a racial quota. There were carefully calibrated numbers of Asian, black, white, and Hispanic boys. She said “The acting was awful, even for a 90s movie, so it was obvious that they didn’t choose the best actors; they just chose actors to be the right race.”

All I could do was agree with her. I found the movie unwatchable back in the day and for the same reason. I added, because I can never resist moralizing, that political correctness destroys everything it touches: art, humor, free speech, creativity, education, etc.

What patriotism used to look like in the mainstream

Back in 1970, John Wayne hosted a July 4th special celebrating America. Can you imagine something like this being made nowadays for mainstream TV, staring mainstream stars? I can’t. It’s simply impossible to imagine:

Modern feminism has nothing to do with freedom or equality

My wonderful sister-in-law reminded me of a Tumblr site I’d meant to mention, but then forgot. It’s called Women Against Feminism, and has women explaining why they feel empowerment comes about when they’re not feminists.

I was speaking to a young Swede today who expressed surprise that I chose to stay home as much as possible to raise my own children, rather than go to work and have the state pay for some other women to raise my children. He said that, because of “equality” women are expected to work. He was even more surprised when I suggested that forcing women to work is just as bad as the old days, when women were refused the right to work. Both deny women the freedom of choice. That thought had never occurred to him.

Pictures

(Thanks to Caped Crusader for this amazing picture round-up.)

The Tea Party Conspiracy

Hamas speaks to Israel and CNN

Obama tells tales about Iraq

Slavery in Africa

Emperors foreign policy

Eisenhower on total security

You’re not paranoid if you think some Muslims are out to get you

One of the points I frequently make is that the only way anti-Semites can maintain the myth that Jews are out for world domination is to make things up out of whole cloth (as is the case with the Protocols of the Elders of Zion) or to take the absence of any evidence of a Jewish conspiracy as proof that there is, in fact, a Jewish conspiracy.  The other point I make is that, when it comes to asserting that radical Islam (which affects tens of millions of the world’s Muslims), one doesn’t need to make things up or point to the absence of evidence as proof.  The Islamists are extremely proud of their goals.  Don’t just look to the ISIS animals; look to the suits throughout the Middle East:

The Bookworm Beat — August 15 Friday wrap-up (and, of course, Open Thread)

Woman writingOne of the things I’ve noticed about modern medicine is that, once doctors start poking around inside the human body, they find all sorts of things that aren’t picture perfect. I remember a long ago hearing an NPR story about a small town with a scary increase in the number of children with benign brain tumors. After an exhaustive search into power lines, drinking water, and bacon, some bright soul figured out that the increase in diagnoses happened because the small local hospital could now do brain scans, a procedure it had started performing on all children brought in with concussions.

My test yesterday showed nothing about my anemia, but has sent the doctors haring off in a different direction about something else that looked funny. I feel fine, so I’m not worried . . . much. Even feeling just fine isn’t a total defense against the niggling fear that comes up when the doctor says that something in there is out of the ordinary. I’ll let you know when they finally determine that, as I suspected all along, I’m a very healthy specimen.

But there are much more interesting things out there than the medical treasure hunt inside my body, so let me get to it….

That the white police behaved badly is no excuse for the black citizens to behave even more badly

Since Ferguson, Missouri, is convulsing the media, and even managed to drag Obama away from his golf game for seven whole minutes, I’ll open with a couple of Ferguson related items. First, Megan McArdle noticed something important about Ferguson: Twenty-four years ago, it was a majority white town. Fourteen years ago, it had the slimmest of black majorities. And four years ago, it was almost 70% black. Although the town demographics changed rapidly, the police demographics did not.

Indeed, the only thing that seems to have changed with the police over the years is that they’ve turned themselves in a military organization, although one sadly lacking in military intelligence. And just as an aside about our police departments turning themselves into faux-military outfits, just two months ago, Ferguson’s own Democrat representative voted against a law that would have stopped military surplus transfers to local police.

Frankly, I’m not surprised that the police department is barricading itself behind advanced grade weapons, even though it’s a stupid, dangerous, and (for all citizens) frightening practice. Blacks don’t like the police. One black man, however, has gone on an epic rant explaining that the problem isn’t with the police, whether or not they are racist, but with blacks themselves. You’ll quickly see why this video has gone viral:

The media concedes Hamas played it, and Hamas complains that the media wasn’t sufficiently compliant

There are a few updates today on the Hamas front, although the most recent ceasefire seems to be holding for now. The biggest news, of course, is the fact that the same media outlets that slimed Israel for the past month are admitting two things: First, that Hamas lies and, second, that the media allowed itself to be intimidated into lying for Hamas (something Hamas is now freely admitting itself).

Sadly, the Hamas/MSM disinformation tactic has worked. Donald Douglas has a disturbing video taken near UCLA, along with the comment that “It’s like we’re back in the 1930s, and it’s a definite transnational scourge.”

To the question “why is this war different from all other wars,” Israelis answer “because tunnels”

My mother spoke yesterday to her oldest friend, a 91-year-old woman who has lived in Tel Aviv since 1934 or so. Many of her grandchildren are on active duty or in the reserves. This friend told my mother “This time it’s different.”

For one thing, Iron Dome has made those in Tel Aviv feel much more secure against air attacks, although the friend says it’s peculiar to see the bombs bursting in air, rather than down on the ground. The other reason this war is different is the tunnels. They have shattered Israelis’ sense of security. (And yes, it’s funny that they felt secure when they’ve been constantly under attack, but those attacks were from land and water, not underground.)

Although Netanyahu says that the IDF destroyed the vast majority of tunnels, neither my mom’s friend, nor anyone show knows, believes that. They’re certain that there are at least as many tunnels unaccounted for as were blown apart.

My mom’s friend is not unique. In an opinion piece at Bloomberg, an Israeli writer says exactly the same thing: because of the tunnels, this time it’s different.

Against Hezbollah, Israel won’t bother to try for proportionate force against civilians

Given all of the above, is it any wonder that Israel is letting it be known that, if Hezbollah starts acting in Lebanon, Israel will use disproportionate force to defeat it:

On a recent trip to Israel, I spoke with government officials who laid out likely scenarios for the next, almost inevitable, round of Israeli hostilities with Hezbollah. Needless to say, given Hezbollah’s ever-increasing strength on the ground, those scenarios are incredibly grim. In short, the Israeli military proposes that in the next conflict with Hezbollah all of Lebanon will be treated like Dahiya, the Hezbollah stronghold that the Israeli air force destroyed in the summer of 2006. “What happened in the Dahiya quarter of Beirut in 2006 will happen in every village from which Israel is fired on,” as one Israeli official explained. “We will apply disproportionate force on it, and cause great damage and destruction there. From our standpoint, these are not civilian villages, they are military bases.”

Insane, no? The problem is, the Israelis are right. It’s not that Israel wants to kill Lebanese civilians. As one Israeli official told me, it is largely because thousands of innocent Lebanese will lose their lives that Israel is reluctant to move against Hezbollah right now. The issue is that the Shia militia has turned all of Lebanon—not just the regions it controls like the Dahiya, the Bekaa Valley, and southern Lebanon—into a military installation, holding every man, woman, and child in the country hostage to its supposed love of death. What are the Israelis supposed to do when Hezbollah starts shooting the next time—refuse to fight back, and let the missiles keep hitting Tel Aviv, while the entire country cowers in bomb shelters?

As I noted myself, if there’s a choice between killing a hundred thousand of the enemy’s civilians, or letting the enemy kill 6-8 million of your civilians, the moral choice is to attack the enemy, and let the civilians fall where they may. This is especially true if your efforts to protect civilians are not appreciated in any event. If you’re going to be accused of disproportionate force when aren’t actually using it to protect yourself, you may as well embrace the accusations and use truly disproportionate force the next time around in order to keep yourself safe.

I finally believe Obama is a Muslim

Can I say anything else but that it’s unconscionable for Obama to refuse to sell to Israel the rockets that Iron Dome fires at incoming missiles from Gaza? Unconscionable seems like such a weak word. I’ll add despicable, vile, immoral, disgusting, and anti-Semitic.  Moreover, for the first time I truly believe that Obama may well be a Muslim, rather than just a Leftist who supports Islam because Islam opposes America (the nation, of course, that Obama swore an oath to protect).

If you were to ask me what a member of the Muslim Brotherhood would do if he were in the White House, I’d pretty much describe everything that Obama has done throughout the Middle East — including his administration’s most recent decision to lift the ban barring Libyans from flight schools and training in nuclear programs. I mean — honestly! — can you just imagine the memo that went around in the White House: “Yes, we know that all sorts of radical Islamist factions have taken over in Libya, and that it was a hub for delivering weapons systems to other radical Islamists, and that the state has Islamic anarchy written all over it, but we really think there are Libyans that ought to know how to fly our plans and control our nuclear facilities.”

Not only that, but there’s also the administration’s malevolent combination of blindness and ineptitude in Syria, which has acted as a warm, comfy incubator for the most extremist Islamist groups ever seen in modern times. You know a group’s extreme when it makes Al Qaeda seem temperate.

Put all of these things put together — Obama’s conduct regarding Libya/Benghazi, Syria, Egypt, the hostility to Israel, etc. — and it starts to look less like ineptitude and more like a plan, even if the plan is just to foul things up so as to destroy any possibility of moderation in the region.

The administration’s (and Congress’s) failure to protect America against electric annihilation

While the administration keeps stirring that Middle Eastern pot, supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, dissing Israel, opening doors into the Middle East for Russia, handing dangerous secrets to Libya, the administration and Congress both assiduously ignore the one thing that has real potential to throw us back into a pre-industrial era, and that is a major EMP attack:

The cost of protecting the national electric grid, according to a 2008 EMP Commission estimate, would be about $2 billion—roughly what the U.S. gives each year in foreign aid to Pakistan.

I guess it’s just too important right now to spend time and money opening our southern border to hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants and then burdening our system with the cost of those immigrants. This seems like the Cloward-Piven strategy played out in real time.

A brilliant way to get colleges to be honest about their alleged “1/5 rape” statistic

Ashe Schow pens yet another article that destroys the disgraceful canard about the number of rapes at American college campuses (a statistic that, if true, would make American colleges almost as dangerous for women as, oh, I don’t know, being a white woman in Malmo, Sweden). Glenn Reynolds’ adds a brilliant idea to the debunking:

To get universities to debunk it, start running ads telling women not to go to college because they have a 1-in-5 chance of being raped if they do. With pictures of university campuses labeled “rape factory” and pictures of university presidents labeled “rape-factory president.”

Dog bites man; or another story of Leftist hypocrisy in Chicago

If you like hypocrisy, you’ll enjoy the story of Karen Lewis, who heads the Chicago teacher’s union and is now running for mayor against Rahm. She’s one of those people who loves to bash the wealthy and believes firmly in wealth redistribution. I won’t tell you more, except to say “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

I think I need to read a Dean Koontz book

Did you know that novelist Dean Koontz is conservative/libertarian? He won’t define himself using those terms, but his political outlook, which apparently dismayed Publishers Weekly so much that it wondered at the fact that he leaked this sensibility into his books, holds that a powerful government is a dangerous, expensive, and useless government. As an aside, I wonder if Publishers Weekly ever expresses concern about Leftists leaking their politics into their books.

I’ve never actually read anything Koontz has written, but to the extent I support his politics and I like thrillers, I’m willing to give his stuff a try. I mean, who couldn’t love someone who says things like this:

• In an online chat on CNN.com (September 10, 2001), Koontz said, “Any time I’m looking for a good psychopath [as a character for a novel], I first check out the current crop of Congressmen and see what they are up to.”

• In The Dean Koontz Companion (Headline Book Publishing, 1994), Koontz said, “It had become apparent to me that the worst enemy of the working man and woman is the state, and that the average person is safest in a country that struggles to limit the size of the state.”

• In an interview with the Mystery Guild (2000), Koontz said, “We just left a century that gave us the worst mass murderers in history: Hitler, Stalin, Mao. History shows us, over and over again, that large groups of people given too much power over other people lose their humanity.”

Andrew Klavan explains “income redistribution”

Andrew Klavan offers a user-friendly explanation of “income redistribution” (which our Marxist, Muslim president thinks is a good thing):

Income redistribution that damages the poor will play out next year at America’s gas pumps

By the way, we California’s may be closer to other people in America when it comes to seeing what income redistribution is all about, since laws set to go into effect in January will raise gasoline prices to $8-$9 a gallon. A couple of things:

First, this “redistribution” “for the planet” will cause the most harm to poor people. I can afford $9 gas, although it will leave me with less wealth for my children and my retirement. My cleaning ladies will not be able to afford it. It will destroy their business, which consists of driving around Marin every day to clean as many houses as these energetic, reliable ladies can manage. Second, these gas prices are Obama’s dream, as reflected in his choice of energy czar.

What’s really sad is that the hyper-credentialed, Ivy League educated morons who surround me in Marin undoubtedly think this tax is a brilliant idea because it will “save the planet.”  Did I say morons?  Let me say it again.  Morons!

This is why I have no time for myself

This song’s chorus explains why, as my house fills with more and more people (mostly teens), I have less time to blog:

Pictures

Mind if I play through

A flaw in the constitution

Items that should be banned

To stupid to own a gun

Israel doesn't hate America

Liberal logic about Palestine

Rape tips

Fleeing a blood soaked land

Fairness to troops and criminals

Post CT Scan Haze — and Watcher’s Council nominations

My sincere apologies for not writing more today, but I simply didn’t feel up to it.  I have developed an inconsequential anemia, but my doctor is nevertheless checking me out to assure me and herself that the cause is as inconsequential as the syndrome.  To that end, I reported to radiology for a CT scan today.

Getting ready for the scan entailed spending an hour drinking about 40 ounces of contrast fluid, which is like somewhat mint-flavored, somewhat liquid, really nasty chalk.  Then, during the scan, the tech injected another contrast medium directly into my veins.  I discovered today that gloop, whether taken orally or intravenously, does not agree with me.  Only now, six hours later, am I starting to feel functional again.  I’d say “Yay, I can blog now” but, in fact, I need to make dinner, pick one of my kids up, and participate in a family meeting to help acclimate our guest.

What this means is that, if I’m able to sit down at my computer for any amount of time over the course of the next two hours, I won’t write but, instead, will read and vote upon my favorite Watcher’s Council submissions for the week:

Council Submissions

Honorable Mentions

Non-Council Submissions

The Bookroom Beat — August 14 a.m. edition

Woman writingMy house guest is sleeping off jet lag in the next room, so I’m doing two-finger typing to silence the normal click-clack of my keyboard. This will therefore be brief.

The UN: Killing Muslims with kindness

The Marines and Special Forces are good, but are 130 of them really necessary to tell us how bad ISIS is or able to face off against it?

Clever pro-fracking campaign in Colorado.

Militant, oppressed blacks or militant, oppressive cops? What’s the story in Missouri? (This too.)

Teachers’ unions work for teachers, not special needs kids.

Also, schools, like universities, have a lot of employees who don’t teach.

I love Texas, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know about its often corrupt local guv’mint and judiciary — especially its left-hewing agencies.

Mike McDaniel remembers the ultimately hopeless Robin Williams shining in a role about hope.

No you’re not paranoid. The media really does report scandals differently for Democrats and Republicans.

Max Borders explains how Progressives are destroying their beloved, iconic “cool” cities.

Even Obama’s own people are revealing just how bad his foreign policy really is.

The UN appoints a rabid anti-Israel person to lead an “inquiry” panel about the latest war.

The fog we love.

Does it matter that journalists are finally telling some truths about Hamas?

Israel is the only hope for freedom in the Middle East

Toledo's water problems explained

Head tilts in the classroom

Common sense is a punishment

The other person is a complete idiot

Libealism defined

Secretary of Debt

The Bookworm Beat — August 13, noon edition

Woman writingNo ruminations today. I’m just diving into the post:

We have met the enemy, and it isn’t us, it’s ISIS

One of the tocsins I’m relentlessly ringing on my “real me” Facebook is that what we’re seeing in the Middle East — in Syria, in Israel, in Iraq, in Egypt — is only the current front line in Islamist battle for world domination. Once they conquer there, the Islamists will do what they’ve done since Mohamed’s time, which is to spread out looking for new lands to conquer.

Importantly, these warriors don’t “conquer” the way Americans do, which is to kick out fascist governments, set up a civil infrastructure, and flood the country with American money and know-how. They conquer the old-fashioned way, with fire and sword (and rape and burial alive and slavery too).

Nor are my fears about Islamist Jihad based upon fantasies and conspiracies. Back in the day, when the Nazis targeted the Jews, they had no hard evidence to support their complaint that Jews were engaged in an effort to take over the world. Indeed, their only evidence was the absence of evidence. “Look,” they crowed. “The fact that there’s not a single bit of proof that Jews are doing any of the things we say they’re doing is proof that they’re doing it secretly.”

There’s nothing secret about al Qaeda, ISIS, Boko Haram, the Taliban, and that whole jolly crew of rapists and murderers. They boast proudly about their worst excesses. Indeed it must sometimes amaze them how the West resolutely pretends that these boasts, complete with pictures, do not exist. Journalists are slowly catching up to the horrors, but people clearly don’t want to know.

Richard Fernandez is paying attention to what’s happening. He feels, as I do, that the West is dancing on the edge of a volcano, willfully turning a blind eye to its own imminent destruction.

ISIS is driving “moderate” Islamist states into Israel’s waiting arms

Something good might be coming out of ISIS’s rampage, though: Saudi Arabia and other “moderate” Arab states are signaling strongly that they have bigger fish to fry than a fight with Israel.  The more Westernized Muslims nations are realizing that they have a bigger enemy in out-of-control Islamists than they ever did with Israel (never mind that Saudi Arabia fanned, and paid for, that particularly fanatic flame for decades).

My proof for making the above statement comes from two things that crossed my radar yesterday. The first was a long editorial in a UAE newspaper insisting that ISIS must be defeated before it accrues even greater power and wealth. The second was an editorial in a Saudi-owned, London-based newspaper explicitly stating that the balance of power in the Middle East has shifted. According to that piece, the The “current conflict looks like an Israel/Hamas–Turkey–Iran–Qatar one, with the rest of the Arab world’s support existing only on Twitter and other social media forums.”  (Emphasis added.)

And apropos ISIS’s accrued power and wealth, HuffPo, of all places, has an article detailing ISIS’s scary numbers, including its huge bank balance, which it obtained the old-fashioned Islamic way: by conquest.

Media Malfeasance at the BBC

Regarding Israel, the BBC lies, and then it lies about lying.

Obama’s perverse “Midas” touch

Victor Davis Hanson on the fact that everything Obama touches turns to dross. Which conclusion leads to two appropriate pictures:

Medusa and Midas

Atomic Obama

Keeping an eye on the upcoming elections

Even as I keep my eye on the Islamists, I haven’t forgotten that we’re waging our own battles here at home, with a Marxist president hellbent on his continuing project of “fundamentally transforming” a perfectly good America into something much less good. Over at the Watcher’s Council, the latest forum asks Council members to offer their predictions for the upcoming election. I think you’ll find the predictions fascinating. Council members are optimistic, although The Razor noted that the GOP has a knack for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

I stayed out of this forum. When I get into the stock market it drops. When I get out, it skyrockets. And when I support a candidate, that candidate seems to lose. The less I predict about the election the better. If, however, you want detailed, and accurate, election information I recommend The Election Projection.

As the world becomes less stable, Rand Paul is a less viable presidential candidate

Bruce Kesler thinks it’s very important that people understand that, in a dangerous world, Rand Paul’s principled non-interventionism would put America at grave risk if he were president.

After all, as Jonah Goldberg says in  his excellent article about our coming long, long war with radical Islam, “The problem is the enemy always gets a vote.”  The fact that Paul’s principles tell him not to engage doesn’t mean the enemy isn’t hell-bent on engaging with us.

Free tampons!

Britain’s Guardian paper is reading my blog. A few weeks ago, I did this poster:

Important women's health costs

Now, the Guardian is running with this concept:

We need to move beyond the stigma of “that time of the month” – women’s feminine hygiene products should be free for all, all the time.

And some pictures

(With thanks to Caped Crusader)

Obama fundraiser

What do you mean by free palestine

Ludwig von Mises on liberals

The Bookworm Beat — trying to be upbeat and failing edition (and Open Thread)

Woman writingThe last few days have been perfectly nice, but without repose. My brain churns frantically, but I don’t get the time to process the information through my keyboard. My apologies.

I think things will even out a little in the next few days (although that may just be wishful thinking on my part). Still, as frantic as the last few days have been, I actually have something to show for my efforts, right down to my dogs’ unusually fresh breath (I added carrots and yogurt to the usual routine of brushing their teeth).

On that happy note, to the news!

Another dissatisfied Obamacare customer

My son spent some quality time with our neighbors who are just about the loveliest people you could ever hope to find. They’re also ardent Democrats and Obama supporters. Or at least, they were ardent supporters. My son told me that one of the parents was grousing furiously about Obamacare, which is costing their family an extra $4,000 this year — and that’s $4,000 that they don’t have.

Add their personal tale to the long list of Obamacare woes, including the fact that Obamacare is not generally a hit, with enrollment numbers coming in far below administration projections.  I only wish, as I always do, that people would have realized that it’s all a con before the 2012 elections, not after.

It’s not what you say; it’s how you say it

Lots of my Leftist Facebook friends recently ran a poster showing that George Bush actually took more vacations than Barack Obama. I’m sure this is true. The problem, though, is that Obama and his family vacation like Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, something taxpayers find tacky. No quiet time at their own remote property or at Camp David for the Obamas.  Instead, they’re jaunting off to multimillion-dollar hotels and estates all over the world. Even worse, when it comes to Obama himself (not his family), Obama is heading off for ostentatious vacations just when he should be looking busy. Jonathan Tobin sums it up nicely:

While no one can say that Obama—or any president for that matter—doesn’t work hard, he has a habit of acting as if the normal rules of political behavior don’t apply to him. This president has spent more days golfing than any of his recent predecessors. While George W. Bush spent more days away from the White House—principally at his Texas ranch or at the family compound at Kennebunkport, Maine, both of which functioned routinely as little White Houses—Obama has never shown he cares much about the optics of being seen recreating while terrible things are happening. Bush stopped playing golf in 2003 after the war in Iraq began principally because he believed it didn’t look right for the president to be strolling the links while Americans faced death abroad. Obama has no such compunctions.

The timing is also a problem. It can be argued that there is something bad happening somewhere on the globe every day of the year. But there is something particularly egregious about Obama loafing around while the successful outcome in the Iraq War that he inherited from Bush is transformed into a victory for Islamist terrorists.

As I’m constantly saying to the kids, it’s not always what you do, it’s also how you do it.

Is Obama bringing identity politics to the Middle East?

Maybe Paul Mirengoff is being picky . . . and maybe he’s not. He’s wondering why, with ISIS slaughtering everyone in its path, Obama was moved to act mercifully only towards the Yazidi. Mirengoff’s conclusion: identity politics strikes Iraq. The Yazidi are more “genuine” and “ethnic” than run-of-the-mill Christians and “apostate” Muslims caught in the maw of the ISIS killing machine.

Yes, ISIS looks bad in its PR, but that’s its point

Ian Tuttle is correct that ISIS is not doing itself any publicity favors by boastfully publishing pictures of its horrible depredations, everything from mass slaughter, to crucifixions, to small children proudly portraying severed heads. I’m less sanguine than he, though, that these pictures will help defeat ISIS. In the theater of battle, the images are doing a good job of making opponents run away. Moreover, here in the West, we’ve already proven that, if Islamists threaten and protest, we will instantly back down. These pictures are only going to increase our spinelessness.

Can you compromise with religious absolutists?

I’ve tried as hard as possible to ignore the appallingly vapid, self-serving, viciously partisan interview Barack Obama had with Tom Friedman, a sycophant in chief. What I couldn’t ignore, though, was the terrible agreement between the two about victory, or its absence. Friedman summed up Obama’s view as follows:

Obama made clear that he is only going to involve America more deeply in places like the Middle East to the extent that the different communities there agree to an inclusive politics of no victor/no vanquished. (Emphasis added.)

That’s an accurate summary. What Obama, always yeasty and puffy in his wording, said was this (and I’ve included the preceding self-serving Friedman riff):

The only states doing well, like Tunisia, I’ve argued [says Friedman], have done so because their factions adopted the principle of no victor, no vanquished. Once they did, they didn’t need outside help.

“We cannot do for them what they are unwilling to do for themselves,” said the president of the factions in Iraq. “Our military is so capable, that if we put everything we have into it, we can keep a lid on a problem for a time. But for a society to function long term, the people themselves have to make decisions about how they are going to live together, how they are going to accommodate each other’s interests, how they are going to compromise. When it comes to things like corruption, the people and their leaders have to hold themselves accountable for changing those cultures…. … We can help them and partner with them every step of the way. But we can’t do it for them.”

Obama seems unable to contemplate an absolute ideology that doesn’t believe in compromise. For him, the only allowable absolutist ideology is his own, which sees a supine West yielding gracefully to the “reasonable” demands of an ascendant Third World.  For radical Islamists, however, the only game in town is total military victory. To them, compromise is weakness, inviting more attacks. It’s very frightening to have a president who is so rigid in his belief system that he’s unable to acknowledge that there’s an enemy out there even worse than the Republicans.

Is it real or is it satire?  Only the Obama administration knows for sure

With a president such as ours, one who has a State Department that believes that hashtags actually accomplish something, it’s often hard to separate satire from real news. I think that if you go to this link regarding the prayer campaign the administration is starting, you’ll be able to determine whether it’s satire or not but, nowadays, maybe I’m wrong in that supposition.

The very real power of prayer

Still, prayer can have quite a power beyond anything we can imagine. In a report about the attack that killed Lt. Hadar Goldin in Israel’s war with Hamas, comes this most amazing and moving story:

In the midst of this attack, a second force of IDF soldiers–which had gone into a mosque looking for weapons, explosives, and rockets– encountered a female suicide bomber who was about to detonate the belt she wore, which would have resulted in the deaths of the soldiers. One of the soldiers instinctively recited the opening words of the holiest Jewish prayer “Shema Yisrael”. The female suicide bomber hesitated and began trembling, giving the soldiers a chance to grab her and disable the device.

The soldiers then took her prisoner and turned her over to a counter-intelligence unit. Their investigation uncovered that the female suicide bomber’s mother was a Jew who had married a Palestinian in Israel and, after the wedding, was smuggled against her will into Gaza. There she lived a life filled with abuse and humiliation, and was basically a captive. In addition to the female suicide bomber, there were two smaller children as well. An armored force went in and rescued the two small children.

For more on the Shema, go here.

Hillary Clinton would have been different, but probably just as bad

Megan McArdle thinks Hillary Clinton would have been a better president than Obama simply because she’s more willing to play with the other kids on the playground. That is, says McArdle, she wouldn’t have been as dismissive of Republican and Tea Party concerns. I often agree with McArdle but in this case I wonder. After all, it was Hillary who thought up the whole “vast right wing conspiracy.” The Clintons are just as corrupt and paranoid as Obama. Certainly Hillary would have made different decisions, and these might have been less doctrinaire and more intelligent, but she’s not any more interested in true partisanship than Obama is.

Shovel — or spoon — ready jobs

Milton Friedman, when asked about “shovel ready jobs,” famously said if the point is just to keep people busy, the government should be handing out spoons, not shovels. The Welsh were apparently listening closely, since they’ve created make-work jobs that are the functional equivalent of tiny little teaspoons to dig big holes.

Incidentally, if that image seems familiar to you, think back to Norton Juster’s wonderful The Phantom Tollbooth. There, our intrepid heroes, Milo, Tock, and the Humbug, meet the Terrible Trivium, who wastes their precious time having them do such meaningless tasks as filling buckets with eye-droppers or digging holes with needles. As he says, “If you only do the easy and useless jobs, you’ll never have to worry about the important ones which are so difficult. You simply won’t have the time, for there is always something to do to keep you from what you should really be doing.”

The terrible trivium

Robin Williams never let politics blind him to our common humanity

John Nolte almost gets it right:

Williams was political — a heavy donor to Democrats, including Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Boxer, and Al Franken, but never offensive. Politics would sometimes rear its head in his stand-ups, but the jibes at Republicans were good-natured, not caustic; the kind of jokes Johnny Carson told.

In fact, when I last saw Williams on stage here in Marin (he showed up unexpectedly at a local comedy club), his anti-Bush and anti-Cheney jokes were just as nasty as any other Leftist comedian’s. Even worse, they weren’t funny.

What made this mindless political attack almost irrelevant I thought was that Williams never let his politics prevent him from seeing the troops as people in need of laughter, rather than monsters in the Bush war machine.  Nolte has a lovely quotation to support this principle:

When the wars came in 2002, without seeking personal attention or publicity, he was overseas with The Boys. Over the course of the decade he would visit 13 countries and entertain 90,000 service men and women. A retired General told ABC News:

After his shows, he’d stick around, making personal connections with service members. Retired Gen. Carter Ham respected Williams’ character.

“He would go to the guard towers, he’d got the dining facilities, he’d got the security police who couldn’t come to the shows because they were on duty. And he would spend time with them individually. That was very moving,” Ham said.

The Bookworm Beat — A little of this and a little of that (and an Open Thread)

Woman writingWe are at sixes and sevens today. Our house guest arrives and my twice monthly cleaning service. Between the two, we’ve purged the house of as much extraneous material as possible. I swear that, if you could put my house on a scale, it would weigh substantially less. There’s still much more I’d like to get rid of, but I’m happy for now.

Even rich people can be broke

I’m still reeling a bit from Robin Williams’ death. I didn’t know him, of course, but I saw him so often, including several live appearances, that he seemed much more real to me than the average Hollywood star. I also found exceptionally sad that money woes worsened his depression. It’s a reminder that, even if you have a $35 million dollar ranch, as long as your debts exceed your assets, you’re still poor. There’s a lesson there for individuals and nations. My great-grandfather, a banker, was wont to say “the man without debts is the richest man of all.”

Will anyone prosecute Hamas for war crimes

William Levinson has decided to stop waiting for others to act and has acted himself. He is filing a formal complaint against Hamas for war crimes.

Hillary’s posturing on Iraq shouldn’t feel fool anyone (but probably will anyway)

Too lazy and too rushed to look up links, but I find it hard to take Hillary seriously as a hard-liner against ISIS. She, after all, was the Secretary of State when the Obama administration pulled all troops out of Iraq. Pulling troops out, obviously, was mechanically a Department of Defense operation, but our relationship with other nations was Hillary’s responsibility. Her record as Secretary of State is a series of useless photo ops punctuated intermittently by appalling mistakes, ranging from the “reset” with Russia; to her criminal and moral negligence regarding Benghazi; to her willingness to preside over America’s abandonment of Iraq.

The only thing that worries me is that the American people will give her a pass. Yes, I know the media will, but really! How dumb do Americans have to be to forget history that happened in just the past few years? As Andrew Klavan wrote, it’s the American people who first elected Obama and then re-elected Obama. As a nation, you tend to get what you deserve.